Train Food Handlers Effectively For Standard 3.2.2A

September 21, 2023 Read Time icon 4 min read

Ensuring that the food you serve is of the highest quality and safety is not just a regulatory requirement — it's a moral duty to your customers and community. In Australia, compliance with Food Safety Standard 3.2.2A, which became law in 2022, is non-negotiable for businesses operating within the food industry. Food Handlers have the power to impact food safety for everyone, so ensuring they have proper training is crucial.

A New Standard for Food Safety

Under the Australian New Zealand Food Standards Code, Food Safety Standard 3.2.2A sets forth more stringent guidelines and requirements. These are designed to ensure that Food Handlers employ adequate safety measures throughout the food preparation and distribution processes.

Definition of a Food Handler

A Food Handler is anyone who interacts directly with food during its preparation, storage, or presentation. This can include actions like chopping vegetables, cooking meat, arranging food on a plate, and even packaging food for takeaway. 

Standard 3.2.2A classifies food businesses as either category one or category two, depending on their food handling activities. Under the standard, the definition of "prescribed activities" includes the handling and management of unpackaged, potentially hazardous foods. 

Training is Key

Because of the inherent risk involved in handling food, both category one and two businesses now have the responsibility to ensure Food Handlers are trained in compliance with Standard 3.2.2A.

Food Handlers must successfully complete a comprehensive food safety training course, such as that offered by the Australian Institute of Food Safety.

Critical Components of Food Safety Training

Food Handler training needs to include the following skills and knowledge. 

  1. Mastery in safe food handling. Training must impart the expertise to control the temperature of potentially hazardous foods and instil an understanding of the concept known as 'Temperature Danger Zones.'
  2. Strategies for preventing food contamination.Your staff should learn effective methods to separate raw and cooked items, manage allergens, properly store foods, and use designated utensils and cutting boards for different food types.
  3. Protocols for sanitation and cleaning. Courses must teach approved techniques for both cleaning and sanitising surfaces and equipment, using either approved food-safe chemicals or heat as the sanitising agent.
  4. Guidelines on personal hygiene. Training should include protocols for managing sick employees and cover standards for handwashing, maintaining uniforms, and overall staff grooming.

Completing a course encompassing these four critical aspects is mandatory before handling high-risk food or undertaking any prescribed activities. The Australian Institute of Food Safety offers a Food Handler course compliant with Standard 3.2.2A.

Crucial Knowledge & Action Points for Food Handlers

If you are a Food Handler, these are some specific actions you can take to comply with Standard 3.2.2A.

Good Personal Hygiene & Proper Hand-Washing

The cornerstone of food safety is personal hygiene. Food Handlers are required to wash their hands with soap and water. Instances where hand washing is essential include:

  • Before starting work
  • After using the toilet
  • After handling waste or garbage
  • After coughing, sneezing or touching one’s face or hair

Even when using gloves must be used, Food handlers must not skip hand-washing.

Understanding & Preventing Cross-Contamination

Cross-contamination is a leading cause of food-borne diseases. Food Handlers must:

  • Keep raw and cooked foods separate
  • Use separate utensils, cutting boards, and storage for different types of food
  • Clean and sanitise surfaces and utensils between tasks

Best Practices in Food Storage

Correct food storage can significantly minimise risks. Food Handlers should:

  • Store raw food items separately from cooked items
  • Monitor refrigeration and freezer temperatures regularly
  • Follow FIFO (First-In, First-Out) principles in storage

Accurate Cooking Temperatures

Food Handlers must know the recommended internal cooking temperatures for different food items and learn how to use a food thermometer effectively.

Cleaning & Sanitising Work Areas

Food Handlers are responsible for maintaining a clean environment. This includes:

  • Regularly cleaning surfaces with appropriate detergents
  • Sanitising equipment, utensils, and cutting boards
  • Proper waste management
  • Managing Food Allergens

Understanding the presence and impact of allergens is critical. Food Handlers must:

  • Know the common food allergens
  • Use separate utensils and surfaces for allergen-free food preparation
  • Clearly label dishes that contain potential allergens

How Does a Food Safety Supervisor Come Into Play?

According to the standard, a Food Safety Supervisor (FSS) is someone who holds a valid Food Safety Supervisor certificate issued within the last five years and has the authority to manage and provide guidance on the safe handling of food. This ensures that the FSS has up-to-date, relevant skills and the capability to identify, prevent and address food safety issues. The business must empower the FSS to supervise and advise Food Handlers. 

Under 3.2.2A, businesses in both categories must appoint at least one Food Safety Supervisor who is “reasonably available” – meaning they either physically work on-site or can easily be contacted by phone. It’s recommended that businesses designate more than one Food Safety Supervisor to account for more than one site, sickness, vacation, shift work, etc. 

The FSS also needs to make sure Food Handlers are creating and keeping appropriate records if the business is classified as category one.

Continuous Training is Key to Food Safety

Maintaining high food safety standards is not a one-time accomplishment but a continual process. Regular audits, continuous training and periodic updates are essential for maintaining a culture of excellence and safety. Offering high-quality, safe food is not just about business; it's a service to the community.

One of the most reliable ways to prepare your Food Handlers and Food Safety Supervisors to meet Food Safety Standard 3.2.2A is through enrolment in the courses offered by the Australian Institute of Food Safety (AIFS). These courses comprehensively cover all essential aspects and provide an accredited certification.

To ensure your business is adhering to Food Safety Standard 3.2.2A and to enrol in a course, schedule a free consultation with one of the Australian Institute of Food Safety’s Compliance Officers today.

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